Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

September 17, 2010

Meet the New Trail Boss - 2010


by Barbara O'Connor

As the Sedona Westerners approach their 50th anniversary as an official social club, George Witteman has taken office as Trail Boss (aka President) for the 2010-2011 hiking season.

George Witteman.

George, a retired Board Certified Ophthalmologist of 35 years from Wausau, Wisconsin, is married with two grown daughters. George and wife Pat were enticed to explore Sedona after friends had honeymooned at Sky Ranch Lodge. The Wittemans’ traveled to Sedona and stayed at Sky Ranch Lodge each year for 5 or 6 years. They purchased a home in Sedona in 1997, first spending 5 to 6 weeks in Sedona. George semi retired in 2003 and followed with a full retirement in 2006. Although they briefly looked to Florida for retirement, Sedona’s climate, and mountains changed their minds.

George has always been physically active starting with high school ‘Student Athlete of the Year’, a Track Scholarship to Loyola University in Chicago, and finishing with a World Wrist Wrestling Championship (ABC ‘Wide World of Sports’) – 2nd place. It is not unusual for George to participate in several of exercising classes given at the Sedona Golf Resort each week.

Early in 1991, after reading the Westerners articles in the Red Rock News for about three months the Wittemans’ decided to contact the present Trail Boss, Sandy Unger, and join the group. Although George enjoyed biking and water sports in Wisconsin, this would be his first experience with an organized hiking group. The Westerners Club filled George’s ongoing spirit for outdoor adventure. Sandy Unger was instrumental in getting George involved with the Westerners as well as the Verde Valley Archaeology Society, Sedona Historical Society and the Road Scholars (ElderHostel, Inc.). About three years ago George and Peter Baenziger also took over coordinating hikes for Exploritas in the Sedona area. A couple of favorite hikes for that group are; Bear Wallow, when there is water running in the canyon and Mitten Ridge to Biker’s Hangover. As if time were no issue, George has been an Archaeology Docent for Friends of the Forest for the last four years.

We can thank Ginny O’Brien for our new leader this year. It was her request of George to become Assistant Cactus Dodger a few years ago, and that started George on his first stepping stone to become Trail Boss. As Trail Boss George’s focus this year is to honor the history of the Westerners and celebrate their 50 years. George would like the February meeting program to honor past members and to involve as many early members as are available. George’s method for being an effective leader is to take the necessary time, be prepared, and share his responsibilities with fellow Westerners. It promises to be a great 50th year for the Westerners.

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website: You may also join by attending a monthly meeting, our next one will be on Thursday, September 23, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Synagogue and Community Center.